Sunday, February 27, 2011

Random Thoughts: Wittgenstein's Ruler - To Judge Or Not To Judge

I read "Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets" by the esteemed Nassim Nicholas Taleb a while ago. In the process, I recall chancing upon a probabilistic mechanism referred to as the "Wittgenstein’s Ruler". I think it can be applied to explain the relationship between a person passing judgment on someone (the "judgor") and the someone being judged on (the "judgee").

Taleb says: "Unless the source of a statement has extremely high qualifications, the statement will be more revealing of the author than the information intended by him. This applies to matters of judgment. According to Wittgenstein's ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler's reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler. The less you trust the ruler's reliability, the more information you are getting about the ruler and the less about the table. A practical example of Wittgenstein's ruler is: The information from an anonymous reader on is all about the person, while that of a qualified person, is going to be all about the book."

In the case of the judgor versus the judgee, unless the judgor has impeccable credentials and expertise in the area he is passing judgment on, his statement would normally be more revealing of himself than on the subject matter being judged. And more often than not, it would be his subjective bigotry on the subject matter that is revealed.


Heather P said...

Hello! I certainly appreciate this post and thank you. I assume you have read my recent rantings about this subject and are responding in such an eloquent manner. I shall indeed use Wittgenstein's Ruler from now on and feel comforted. Bravo!!

Clairsentience said...

Dear Heather, Yes indeed I have! I am glad that my post was able to offer you some comfort from the unfortunate encounter you had. I most certainly do not think those were rantings in the first place, but I do sincerely hope that you are at peace with the incident by now.